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Why your product launch needs an integrated communications strategy

By Briggy Anderson, with Jessica McAndrew and Adam Christie

A product launch is one of those occasions when having a truly integrated communications strategy is essential to maximise your brand’s exposure.

Joined-up thinking across media relations, influencer engagement, digital marketing and web development and design is the hallmark of our integrated agency. And that unified approach is imperative to establishing your brand or product.

Even while the product is still in development, communications professionals should begin devising their product launch plans to prepare the public for its arrival. 

 

Building your brand 

The team behind your integrated communications strategy has to get involved early, in fact the earlier the better. Many of our clients involve us during the ideation stage – this helps shape the final marketing strategy from inception. Even if we’re involved later in the process, we will need to know what we are launching as early as possible so we can begin to think about how we’ll do that, how we’ll make it stand out.

We’ll need to understand what the product is all about, how it works, what it does and who it will be useful to.  What’s the need for that product, what is the problem that it solves? If it’s not an innovation, but a product line extension, what sets it apart from the competition? And what can we do to set it apart?

Answering those questions early in the product launch planning process helps establish a common language and a clear hierarchy of messages and that can be tailored to different audiences and stakeholders if need be.  Eliminating mixed messages in the run-up to the product launch.

That demands clear, concise messaging that works across platforms, communicated succinctly in a tone of voice that suits your brand.

Making your new product succeed

For your product to grow and thrive – and for it to succeed – we have to make it relevant and ensure it is noticed by the people you want to be seen by. So defining the brand’s key audience is essential, as is breaking that audience down into segments.

Then there’s competitor analysis to consider to determine what opportunities exist, what works and what doesn’t, what the upcoming trends are and how our creative team can make your brand resonate in your specific audience.

With each aspect of an integrated communications strategy tied to the others, that means comms teams will be working alongside digital marketing experts and web developers to get out that unified messaging.

You are looking for a product launch plan that will seamlessly marry up your offline and online audiences, using tried and tested techniques from each of those specialisms to support innovative and exciting PR and marketing solutions.

 

Briggy Anderson, Director

Managing media relations

An early start allows us to start devising our PR strategy, developing your product’s “story”. This always comes back to who the audience is and where we will find them.

If you’re introducing a UK first or a ground-breaking innovation, for example, the product launch planning stage could run on for months. But sometimes we simply don’t have the luxury of time and we have to devise plans quickly to hit the shelves.

For some launches where TV is deployed we will work closely with the ad agency to make sure we’re singing off the same hymn sheet. For other campaigns, we are charged with the entire creative and execution. We would then also deploy choosing the right method of activation that’s needed whether that’s PR, digital or experiential. 

When it comes to activation there are many tried and tested mediums we use – creating copy, content, video footage, b-roll, expert briefings, photoshoots– and all this just to satisfy print and broadcast journalism.

For digital, our PR team write copy for use on your product website, and trawl social media to find the right social influencers to spread the word about the product launch. This painstaking process is done by our teams. Unlike many other agencies, we have personal relationships with hundreds of influencers to ensure their authenticity and deliver both reach but most importantly engagement. 

We take our time to brief and contract each and every one to ensure we are working with the right and most appropriate people for each and every launch.

Lead times and deadlines 

We need a good lead time for media relations ahead of your launch as some of the titles we’d be aiming to get the new product into – a health and fitness magazine or a Sunday supplement, for example – have deadlines that are months before the product is available. 

Sometimes, there is a desire to get an endorsement from a celebrity or an expert as a key plank of the integrated communications strategy. Our team does the digging to find the perfect person with the appropriate interests and background to suit the client’s needs. We have outstanding relationships with productions companies, agents as well as press. Tying this together with creativity, we find the perfect match for a launch.

And there’s the launch itself – what can we do to grab some headlines and make your product stand out? Will it be a glitzy celebrity party, an eye-catching photo-call, interviews with that high-profile endorser? Or perhaps a carefully placed TV, magazine or newspaper feature that sets the agenda for a follow-up stories elsewhere?

Then there are sometimes legal and regulatory matters to be considered, particularly in areas such as beauty products and health and food supplements.

Avoid breaking rules

So we have to make sure that we’re saying what we should be saying to avoid any risks. Getting your wrist slapped by regulators for breaking these rules is definitely not a case of there being no such thing as bad publicity.

Our approach is that the more strategy and scenario planning before the launch, the better. You’ve got to be asking what could go wrong, as well as what could go right so that you are prepared in the event of the worst happening.

Therefore, crisis planning has to be part of your product launch strategy. Some of that boils down to checking whether people are going to like the new product.

It seems obvious, but it’s important to get customer feedback before the product goes to market so that you can address concerns or use their opinions to tweak the campaign.

 

Jessica McAndrew, Director of Digital Communications

The digital marketing drive

Launching a new product in the digital space can be a challenge. Brands are already dealing with the ongoing battle to cut through digital noise and have their websites found above competitors.

With the help of digital marketers, they’re navigating the turbulent seas of fake news, echo chambers and trying to keep up with the constantly changing digital landscape. That’s hard enough to do without worrying about a new product launch.

Social media platforms provide a soap box for anyone to take advantage of – and many do. It can be as simple as setting up an Instagram or Facebook account for a new product, branding it and defining a unique tone of voice to communicate with prospective customers.

Selecting the right channel is important – for example Instagram is geared towards a younger, visual audience, while Twitter is newsy and based on real-time conversations while joining relevant threads on forums such as Reddit can help catapult new innovation to the front page of the internet.

Each social platform has its own personality and user profile, but each also allows messages to be targeted at exactly the people you need to see your product. 

Define your online audience

Once you segment and define your online audience and where you will reach them, think about what they would want to see. Digging into analytics and finding lookalike audiences made up of people interested in similar products can help with this process – research will uncover what they like and where they spend their time online.

Determine what content they keep engaging with: would it be how-to guides, demos, infographics, recipes, or hacks? What about interactive media, such as quizzes or polls?

The assets you create can’t be skimped on – they have exude quality, represent your brand clearly and engage your audience. The success of your product launch plan will depend on making relatable, shareable content that your online audience wants others to see, with their clicks to share doing your marketing for you.

Then there are the benefits of promoting your social posts. Putting pennies per person behind targeted posts on Facebook or Instagram can lead to real benefits – particularly when backed with a strong call to action, be that a “buy now” button, a link to your online store, or a link to more engaging content. Remember, if you’re using Facebook’s Business Manager and Power Editor for advertising then you can extend your targeting and audience segment into Instagram for an extended reach across both platforms.

Basically, do what you can to make people sit up and notice your new product. The more they notice the more they engage. The more they engage the farther your product (virtually) travels.

 

Adam Christie, Director of Innovation

Setting standards in web development and design

You wouldn’t put up a house or build an extension without surveying the land and researching the best materials to build it with.

It is research that is the foundation of everything we do in web development and web design. And it’s crucial to your product launch. Quite simply, you have to know exactly what you want to build before you build it.

So dig deep into research, both into your current website and those run by competitors. You want to know what people do there, where they click and what they like, where they spend the longest time and where they spend the shortest time.

What would they want to know about your product? They want to know what it is, what it can do for them, and how it looks. So find the best ways show them.

Define what your users want

All that research will also help find out where your users come from – social media, links in promo emails or Google searches, for instance – and the kind of content they like. That could identify the need for a chatbot to help them about, or a desire for more video, 360 photography, or interactive elements.

Of course, there are some essentials – putting in links for sharing to social media, a FAQ section to help visitors with queries, and the options for contacting you directly, be that email or chatbots.

Defining all that is needed allows you to develop an outline of what’s needed and what isn’t, whether that’s a new house (a whole new site) or an extension (a microsite). You can plan what you want where.

Once the blueprint is in place, the web design team start on all the features you need and the user experience (UX) you’re aiming to foster for the brand. They’ll focus on the prominence of your branding and how it’s seen, coming up with design concepts which, once approved, are developed into templates that work best for each section and page of the website – from the home page to the buy page.

Customer journey

UX takes high priority. Every click a visitor makes on your page reflects on your brand and it’s crucial they are rewarded with the content they are looking for when they go looking for it. The website’s design has to lead them easily through their customer journey, with calls to action where required.

That means using clear design and engaging media – photos, demonstration videos and guides, a 360-degree video, perhaps – to show off the product to its best advantage.

While the look and UX of your website are being defined, the back-end build is going on. It’s akin to putting up the timber frame. Web developers get to work on building the databases you’ll need and programming all those on-site features and functions that will make your product stand out online.

The front-end build brings all those lovely looking designs together with the back-end build. The walls have gone up but there’s still the roof to go on – filling the website with content. And you’ve got the plumbing and electrics to take care of – for example, all the SEO work, putting in redirects from the old site and testing the website technically, for usability and for accessibility – before you can hand over the key to the door.

Explore content marketing

So, the website is up and running. How do you help users engage with it? Explore content marketing, generating more useful, shareable content in terms of blogs, vlogs and podcasts that can be used to establish that all-important relationship with the prospective customer.

Continually generating this kind of valuable, informative content works well in consumer marketing and is really useful in a B2B setting. It gives people a reason to keep returning to your website and B2B deals generally take longer to tie up. By demonstrating your knowledge, you build trust with visitors, laying the way for commercial relationships.

As a bonus, this kind of content can be tailored to hit the SEO keywords you aim to be ranked for and means your website will be regularly updated, which Google likes.

To find out how we push the boundaries of PR, marketing, digital and web design to get the best for our clients, call us now on 0800 612 9890. 

 

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